“Rumors and Rumblings” is a regular feature on Yellowhammer News. It is a compilation of the bits and pieces of information that we glean from conversations throughout the week.
1. Success has 1,000 fathers. President Donald Trump has held a special affinity for the state of Alabama since the early stages of his 2016 campaign. And the feeling has been mutual. Thirty thousand people turned out to his first rally in Mobile all the way back in August 2015. Then on Super Tuesday in March 2016, he received over 43% of the vote in the state’s Republican presidential primary. The next closest candidate was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) with 21%. As recently as this week, polling showed that his favorability rating among Republicans in Alabama hovers around 80%.
Trump maintains a lofty perch in the state. There’s no doubt about that. What’s a little more unclear is who is responsible for getting him there. Alabama political observers have for some time marveled at the perpetual jockeying to stay at the front of the line of people representing Trump’s interests in the state.
Four stand out to us as being those most readily acknowledged as having a claim to the Trump throne in Alabama. All four evidently have, or had, the title “chairman” attached to their names in some form.
Two held visible roles from the beginning. State Rep. Jim Carns (R-Mountain Brook) and former State. Rep. Ed Henry. Both participated in the original Trump rally in Mobile and evidence would indicate that Carns carried the title “campaign chairman” while Henry carried the title “campaign co-chairman.” Considerable talk arose after Trump’s win that Carns could even fill an ambassadorship in Central America.
A third, Chess Bedsole, seemed to have held a hybrid role. Bedsole was both a paid political consultant for the Trump campaign and in leadership as “Trump’s Alabama campaign Chairman.”
Finally, former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper, Jr. is the man who — by at least one account — has risen to the top of the Trump leadership ladder in Alabama. For a time, Hooper shared the campaign chairman title with his peers. Perhaps as a nod to his elevated status, however, Hooper somewhere along the line received the unique title “Trump 2016 Alabama Victory Chair.”
Hooper’s social media accounts document him becoming a fixture at the White House. According to his own account, he has been in the middle of West Wing meetings on fighter jets and trade and the Easter Egg Roll.
2. Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him. While Hooper has asserted himself as the unofficial Trump contact in the state, it has not happened without risk. It is fairly common in politics for someone to claim a significant piece of political real estate and then be the object of derision from others who aspire to occupy the same space. The key for someone in that potentially vulnerable position is to be ready and aware.
Opposition to Hooper’s role in Trump world came to a boiling point a few weeks ago following an NBC News article in which Hooper said he spoke to Trump about Alabama’s U.S. Senate race. The article quoted Hooper as saying that there was a “plan” in place for Trump to endorse former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Republican primary.
Yellowhammer News had picked up some rumblings earlier in the year that a certain amount of consternation existed regarding Hooper’s service as an unofficial spokesman for Trump in the state. Sources with knowledge of the situation told us that a conference call on the subject took place among Republican National Committee (RNC) officials, and on that conference call the phrase “restraining order” was used, at one point.
While those in Washington, D.C. continued to monitor, Hooper’s use of the national media to convey Trump’s purported thoughts on Alabama’s senate race may have sent some over the edge. One RNC official told us Hooper’s outspokenness on Trump’s views went from harmless to meddling to dangerous in light of the NBC News article. We were told that RNC Trump Victory Political Director Chris Carr spoke with Hooper to clarify some of the boundaries of his involvement in Trump world. We were also told that Carr directed Hooper to refrain from issuing statements to the press, holding press conferences and otherwise representing the thoughts and views of Trump.
Hooper told Yellowhammer News that the Trump comments he conveyed to NBC News occurred during a meeting he had with the president on tariffs. He said the president asked him about Tuberville and the state of the race, in general, and he simply offered his assessment. Hooper said he considers both Tuberville and Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) friends.
Whether any of this amounts to anything — or deters Hooper in any fashion — remains to be seen. Merely five days ago, Hooper posted a photo of himself attending a Chicago Cubs baseball game with Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
3. What are the odds? Scott Cooley of SportsBetting.ag has provided Yellowhammer News with some prop bets surrounding a number of current political storylines.
Bettors can wager on the blockage of a potential Mexico tariff, the possibility of a presidential impeachment, whether or not President Trump will attend a World Cup match and whether he will have to hand over his tax records.
The oddsmakers don’t anticipate an impeachment or Trump’s tax records to be made public, but the numbers do suggest Congress would block a tariff on Mexico.
Will the House of Representatives pass Articles of Impeachment against President Trump before end of his first term?
Yes 2/1 (+200)
No 2/5 (-250)
–Note: The odds imply a 71.43% probability articles will not be passed
Will the Democratic Party gain access to President Trump’s federal tax returns before the end of his first term?
Yes 3/2 (+150)
No 1/2 (-200)
–Note: The odds imply a 66.67% probability returns will not be accessed
Will Congress successfully block President Trump from imposing tariffs on imported Mexican goods? (disapproval vote must take place for action)
Yes 1/2 (-200)
No 3/2 (+150)
–Note: The odds imply a 66.67% probability a tariff would be blocked
Will President Trump attend a World Cup match?
Yes 20/1 (+2000)
No 1/100 (-10000)
–Note: The odds imply a 99.01% probability Trump will not attend